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  from War Born by Mackenzie Seidel

Chapter One

The Stargazer shuddered as another missile impacted the hull, throwing Meridian away from her computer. Her fingers grazed against the edge of the tactical screen, but she wasn't fast enough to catch herself and hit the wall behind her with a sickening jolt of pain. Her screen flickered, immediately followed by the lights on the bridge going out. The emergency lighting blazed to life on the floor giving her just enough visibility to grab the corner of her station and haul herself back up.

"Ivan!" Meridian shouted, desperate to be heard over the blaring of the alert klaxons. It was too dark to see him properly.

"Lydia, get those engines back online, now," Ivan's voice thundered from across the bridge. "Mera, you have to keep firing!"

His voice had taken on the sharp edge it did when he was distracted, trying to orchestrate commands in the chaos of the battle. The CMS Gloria had taken them by surprise, and although the Stargazer was far from helpless, they weren't equipped properly to take on a Cosmonautical battleship.

Meridian pushed away from her station. The floor shook again and slammed her hand against the wall to keep her footing.

"Ivan, listen to me," She called again, making her way across the bridge. An ear splitting shriek ripped through the room and the Stargazer whirled once more under the assault. Meridian threw her arms out to the side in attempt to keep from falling, but she stumbled forward into Ivan.

He caught her arm just as she went past, pulling her against his chest.

"Are you all right, Mera?" He asked. Even though his face was inches from hers, she could still barely hear him.

"They’re too strong," Meridian said, "We can't take them in a sustained battle."

Ivan grit his teeth. "There's a repair station nearby that was allied with us the last time I checked. As long as we don't explode we should be good."

"That's the current problem yes," She retorted.

"Ivan!" Lydia called from across the bridge, "We've lost radiation shielding. If we're going to do something we need to do it now."

Ivan growled and pushed Meridian back towards her station. "Just go, Mera. I don't care what you have to do to win, just destroy that ship."

"That's a dangerous thing to say to me," She called. "Lydia, transfer power control to my station."

Lydia hated relinquishing control, but she had spent nine years with Meridian. If that wasn't enough to convince her that she knew what she was doing, nothing would.

The meters displaying the internal power of the Stargazer appeared on the tactical screen , and Lydia stood up, making her way across the bridge precariously towards her. Meridian's fingers flew across the screen, transferring power from their life support systems to the aft rail cannons. They could go seven or eight minutes with the oxygen purifiers off. After that it got a little dicey.

"What are you doing?"

"Saving your life," Meridian muttered, although Lydia probably couldn't hear her.

"I have no goddamn clue what you’re doing, but I trust you not to kill us all," Ivan said. Of course. The alert that the life support systems had gone offline would appear on all of the command consoles.

"That's your first mistake," She said, "I need navigation on the main screen."

"What?" Ivan shouted, "You can't concentrate on that much at once, your brain will explode."

"I thought you said I could do whatever I wanted. Nav, now."

Ivan muttered a dozen inaudible complaints but the screen of the navigation station blazed to life on the large screen at the front of the bridge. Meridian raised her hand, and the screen shifted, showing it was ready for input.

It really was too much for her brain to handle. The power meters bouncing back and forth as the three engineers below decks desperately tried to keep up with the damage that the ship was taking, the emergency sirens ricocheting off of the metal floors and walls of the bridge. The noise seeped i...

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